Lawyer Norman Brian Yap explains to the City Council the needed legislative action for the Covac program. (Photo courtesy of Sangguniang Panlungsod ng Puerto Princesa)


The city government is set to enter into a memorandum of agreement and non-disclosure agreement with a certain pharmaceutical company, kickstarting its Covac (COVID-19 vaccination) program.

The legislative body, in a special session held Friday afternoon, granted City Mayor Lucilo Bayron authority to enter into a memorandum of agreement (MOA) and non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with the national inter-agency task force (IATF) against COVID-19, the Department of Health (DOH), and any authorized manufacturer to secure availability and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to city residents.

Lawyer Norman Brian Yap, city legal officer, confirmed that a confidentiality agreement has been prepared, saying that material information was to be withheld from the public as it would be detrimental to the negotiations.

“Disclosing, including issuing a press release or otherwise any incumbent statement to any person that confidential information has been made available to the conference or the fact that this special negotiations with respect to the proposed transaction aren’t taking place. So we cannot here announce any negotiations,” Yap told the Council.

Puerto Princesa’s Covac program aimed to inoculate at least 70 percent of the local populace, setting aside around P500 million for the massive health project in an effort to curb the effects of the pandemic.

However, in a closed-door meeting with the members of the City Council during the recess, Yap showed the document in private to “enlighten the members of the City Council on the needed legislative action for the City Government to commence discussions, negotiations, and propose business arrangements to secure the availability and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines for the constituents of Puerto Princesa City”.

Lawyer-councilor Herbert S. Dilig acknowledging the “long process ahead”, said the legislation was necessary as other local government units race with time in the COVID-19 vaccine procurement.

“For COVID-19 vaccine mayroon na silang mga napupusuan. In line lang ito sa trust ng city government na magkaroon ng vaccine para sa mga taga-Puerto Princesa,” Dilig said.

Dilig was among the first few public officials in the country who sought allocations for the COVID-19 vaccine, even prior to the pharmaceutical companies announcing success on the clinical trials.

“Let’s just say na hindi nagpapahuli ang Puerto Princesa City sa iba pang mga LGUs sa pag obtain ng vaccine para sa mga residente ng ating lungsod,” Dilig added.

Dilig, author of local City Ordinance No. 1079 passed on September 25, 2020, earlier secured P127 million COVID-19 vaccine funds, prioritizing “local indigent residents”. The funds were drawn from the maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) drugs and medicines allocation of the public health emergency response for COVID-19 pandemic programs appropriated through Ordinance No. 32-2020. (with a report from Jeshyl Guiroy)